Saturday night high school playoff football is back.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association board of directors approved an immediate return to Saturday night playoff games during its monthly June meeting on Wednesday. Impending new OHSAA Commissioner Jerry Snodgrass – he succeeds Dr. Dan Ross in September – tweeted the schedule change on Wednesday afternoon.
The 2017 season was the first for the OHSAA to lump all football playoff games – at least since the expansion to seven divisions – to Friday only. That lasted only that season.
For this season, Friday playoff games will be for Divisions I, II, III and VI. Saturday games will feature Divisions IV, V and VII.
All the games will start at 7 p.m.
“We still have good attendance throughout the playoffs, but the overall total attendance dropped in 2017 when we moved all the games to Fridays,” Beau Rugg, OHSAA Director of Officiating and Sport Management and the OHSAA’s football administrator, said in a statement.
“Some parts of the state liked staying away from Saturdays for playoff games, but we also received quite a bit of feedback, mainly from the smaller schools, that they hoped we would return to having games on Saturdays, too, so their communities could see two games per weekend instead of one.”
Sentiment seems to be divided about the decision to split the playoff games into two nights again. The OHSAA initially was concerned that high school football was taking a big attendance hit on Saturday’s because of college football, especially state-wide interest in Ohio State football that often plays in prime time.
Marion Local football coach Tim Goodwin summed up on Twitter sentiment for those who liked the Friday-only schedule: “I feel as though Saturday night games are bad for coaches and their families. It means no weekend whatsoever and no time to decompress.”
There are four regions that make up each of the seven divisions. Eight teams each region qualify for the playoffs, based on a numerical formula that accounts for wins and wins by a defeated opponent.
The top four seeded teams host first-round playoff games, then the postseason shifts to neutral sites. It takes five games to win a state title: first round, regional semifinal, regional final, state semifinal and state final. The state championships will return to Canton’s Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium on Nov. 29-Dec. 1.
The start date for preseason football is Monday, July 30. All players must undergo a mandatory five-day acclimatization period.